“We are doing this for people living in Lithuania who have come from abroad, as well as for our people who have left abroad, for example, women who marry foreigners and have children and then face with various legal problems,” the prime minister told the Žinių Radijas news radio on Thursday morning. “We need to look into this deeper as we live in a global word and there’s no betrayal here.”
On the last day of its spring session, the Seimas had decided to postpone the name spelling issue until the fall.
The Lithuanian Seimas’ Legal Affairs Committee has already backed the use of Latin alphabet letters for the spelling of names and surnames of Lithuanian citizens in ID documents.
The committee suggests ensuring that Lithuanian Republic citizens should be allowed to spell their name and surname using Latin letters if their name is spelled using Latin letters in the source document. The source document might, for example, be the passport of a foreigner married to a Lithuanian woman.
Meanwhile the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language reiterated its position that letters q, w and x could only be used for the spelling of names of Lithuanian citizens married to foreigners, their children and foreigners who gained Lithuanian citizenship.
An alternative bill on the spelling of names in ID documents has also been presented to the parliament, allowing the original name spelling only on a separate passport page. Lawmakers have also registered several alternatives to the Social Democratic bill but they were subsequently rejected by the Legal Affairs Committee.
Current laws stipulate that last names of all Lithuanian citizens can only be spelled in characters of the Lithuanian alphabet which does not include letters w, x or q. Supporters of the amendments maintain that this causes problems for Lithuanians who marry foreign nationals.
Politicians of the Polish community in Lithuania and their supporters in Poland have long been asking to allow Polish letters in the last names of Polish speakers, an issue that has been emerging in the bilateral Lithuanian-Polish relations.
Critics say that non-Lithuanian characters would undermine the status of the Lithuanian language as the official language and, furthermore, can cause trouble in reading non-Lithuanian last names.
The government pledged back in 2012 to resolve the name spelling issue, as well as the spelling of streets and locations and areas populated by minorities, and has since then set several deadlines which were subsequently moved.